Decking our Halls + Candle the Elf

Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving, our family would load up in the car and head to the mountains to cut down our Christmas tree. It was one of my favorite traditions.
Kevin and I did this the first 5 years of our marriage (before we had kids) And we have have done it about 3 times since having kids. There is nothing like going into the mountains & chopping down your tree. So fun. Last year we were going to head back to the mountains to cut down a tree because we hadn't gone since 2010, but because of the California drought (and dry trees) we didn't go last year and we are still in a drought this year (it's an even bigger drought) so we decided to postpone again (nothing worse than cutting down a tree that sheds tons and tons of pine needles)
When we don't go to the mountains to cut down a tree, we go to Home Depot (ugh).
Last year we had a bad tree from there, so ended up getting a 2nd tree at Lucky (which is a grocery store) It was an awesome tree, so we decided to go to Lucky again this year.
I can't tell you how much it pains me that we got our tree from a grocery store parking lot.
It pains me even more that it LITERALLY took us 30 seconds to pick out our tree.
What pains me EVEN more than that is that the guy helping us in the tree lot was the guy from the DELI COUNTER at the grocery store.
Seriously, he was wearing his white deli coat.
But, let me tell you this...the tree we got this year at Lucky is probably the best tree we have ever gotten. It smells amazing, is full, symmetrical and...it was only $50. Sweet!
 But, even though it was the best tree we have had, I still want to head up to the mountains next year and cut one down. I just loved that tradition growing up and want my kids to experience that also, even if it's just every few years.

The girls were all about decorating the tree. Kevin and I put on the lights and then the girls put on every single ornament. I let them have 100% free reign of the decorating. I just stood back and watched. They did a really great job.
Sure, there are a few spots that have clumps of ornaments, but I let them be. In fact, every few days, the girls will re-arrange some of the ornaments and change up where they put them. 
Here is the finished tree, courtesy of Kate & Claire:
I have our Christmas cards displayed on the window by our dining room table. I love seeing all my friends beautiful families!
One of my favorite decorations is our Willow Tree Nativity Set that we got for a wedding gift 12 years ago. I love it.
For the kids, we have the Little People Nativity Set. They love playing with it!
Kevin's mom made this Advent Calendar for us when Kate was born. It is all handmade with felt & burlap.
  Nighttime views....because Christmas decorations are so much prettier at night.
Our new fireplace...so thankful our construction is over! 
Love our new French Doors also. I will post some Before & Afters of this project!
 Other Decorations around our house (I like to keep things very simple because I don't like a lot of clutter!)
In our family room, I just have a glass Christmas tree on a side table:
 And some JOY letters above our TV:
 In the kitchen, I have fun bright colors for the kitchen decorations.
As you can tell, I love using ornaments as decorations :)
Front Porch:
 And, of course another main decoration we have in our house during Christmas is our Elf on the Shelf, named Candle.
Candle arrives every year the first Sunday of Advent.
Our Elf shows up by the time we get home from church & he is always in the same spot on day 1....in the bowl of ornaments on the coffee table in the living room. 
Our elf always brings the kids their Christmas pj's (so they can start wearing them all December)

 And,  our Elf always brings the kids their Christmas Book Advent.
What is a Christmas Book Advent? It is 24 Christmas books wrapped up, each night the girls unwrap a book for us to read to them that night. 
Our elf (named Candle) also brings the kids a note reminding them about the true reason for the season.
 We do Elf on the Shelf slightly different in our house. Our elf does not "watch" the girls and report back to Santa. That is just not our style. Our Elf just likes to move around each night & the girls look forward to finding his new hiding spots. It is the first thing they do each morning.
 And, I don't really do elaborate Elf ideas. Most of the places our Elf hides are simple. Maybe 1-2 times a week I will do something more elaborate, like a snow angel with flour, fill the sink with marshmellows in their bathroom like the Elf is taking a bath, but mostly we just move him around.
And, because I have forgotten to move him in years past, last year I started setting an alarm on my phone...anyone else have an alarm for their elf? Every night at 10:30 it goes off :)
Most of the places I have to put our Elf are up high. The first day he arrived he was on the coffee table and Luke almost grabbed him. The girls FREAKED out. Luke is only 2 and doesn't understand that you can't touch him, so Candle the Elf will be out of Luke's reach this holiday season.
And, I am pretty sure this will be Kate's last year believing in Santa/the Elf.
She is in 2nd grade...I feel like I found out when I was in 3rd grade. 
Cue tears.....from me!

Thanks for taking a peek into our simply decorated house.
 I love the way our home feels during Christmas.
The twinkle lights, the warmth, the anticipation of Christ's birth.
December is just a magical month, don't you agree?


  1. My 3rd grader found out this year and it was quite sad. And I have to do an alarm on my phone too, but I made it say something fake instead of Elf because I was afraid the kids would somehow see the reminder and I didn't want that to be what had them find out the truth.

  2. That is a beautiful tree! I was showing my Daughter the trees at the Blackhawk tree lot a couple of weeks ago (ours is a fake tree, but I miss the tree smell SO much!) and I was blown away that they wanted $100 dollars for an 8 foot tree. Yikes! Lucky for the win! :)
    Your home is decorated beautifully!

  3. Your house looks so good! I love, love, love your new addition! I loved every single thing about this post :).

  4. Love the house and I have a fourth grader that still believes so you never know.

  5. Goodness I can't imagine paying $50 for a tree!!! I'm from Oregon where any size u-cut tree is $10 we typically get around 12ft.. I love your simple gorgeous Christmas decorations!

  6. Beautiful pictures of your home and decorations! Sure wish our drought would end. Watch out for this upcoming storm!

  7. Very pretty! I am feeling much more like our house is our home this year, so enjoying it,too! I have a lot out, but it doesn't feel like clutter to me anymore, not like with the old house, you'll have to come over and see :) HOW do you hang your wreaths? I bought a gold over the door hanger at Target, spay painted it oil rubbed bronze. Looks great, but door didn't shut right- boo :(

  8. Your house looks beautiful! I am so impressed that the girls and Luke don't mess with the ornaments or your glass Christmas tree. Sadly, I don't think a bowl of ornaments would last long in my house. Your new addition is beautiful.

  9. Love your sweet home at Christmas times and traditions. You can hope your child believes a little longer. My youngest was 10 and my oldest granddaughter was 13, believe it or not. Ha

  10. Your home looks beautiful! The girls did a fantastic job with the tree!

  11. So, I was 8 and in 3rd grade when I stopped believing in Santa. I figured my kids would do the same. Nope. my twelve year old JUST realized this year that we, the parents, get the gifts. My nine year old son still firmly believes. We have the same problem with our Elf. He has to stay out of Jocelyn's reach :)

  12. Your home looks lovely! I've been struggling with our elf this year--we started off a few years ago with the "he's watching you and will report to Santa," but I so dislike that perspective of Christmas. A friend from church just came up with a new idea that I started today--our elves (one for each child--I know, what was I thinking?!) are on a new mission: to help us spread Jesus' love to others. No more good behavior gets you more presents because that's not how Jesus works. We'll see how it goes, but I'm just excited to put the focus back on the true meaning of Christmas.

  13. I am stopping by from Kelly's Korner! Your home is beautiful and magical. The girls did an awesome job decorating the tree! Stop by Kelly's, I'm number 36. Hope you have a blessed holiday season!

  14. I teach fourth grade and bring this book out after Thanksgiving break. A beautiful story! It sure helps keep Santa alive in my classroom each year!

    Flight of the Reindeer: The True Story of Santa Claus and His Christmas Mission by Robert Sullivan (Author), Glenn Wolff (Illustrator)

  15. I love how you've used ornaments everywhere in your decorating. I think I might borrow this idea and put some ornaments out just for fun this year!

  16. Our elf's name is Candle too! My daughter named him two years ago! So funny! Ours doesn't report back to santa either and we skip the part in the book where you can't touch him. So my girls carry him around everywhere.

  17. I love your decor and the bright colors in the kitchen! I'm the same way with our elf...he typically just moves around but every few days I'll do something a little more elaborate and fun. Great idea about setting an elf alarm! I've forgotten once this year already!! (Chippey was tired that day and needed to rest!)

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